Those who instigated and reveled in the killings I witnessed are the same people who turned or squeezed Islam into a slogan fit today only for the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood. Whatever be their number as a percentage, this segment of the total Muslim global population has infected a faith, a culture, and once a civilization that rivaled all its contemporaries. In a healthy body, one that keeps pace with changes wrought by time, such a turgid and toxic virus would be contained and expunged. But Islam as a civilization, failing to adapt or innovate, has shriveled over time (Toynbee would remind us this is a natural process of birth, growth and decay, affecting all civilizations); instead of possessing the vitality to resist, a significant portion of the body of Islam has been incapacitated.
So, Roger, imagine someone shooting a moving picture of the world of Islam in our time and freezing the frames that illustrate in graphic detail the effects of the toxin at work: frames of wild and angry men chanting threatening slogans, wreckages of violence and terrorism committed in the name of Islam, ignorance and bigotry dressed as divinely based knowledge. I am then asked to confirm that what I believe and practice, my upbringing, my education, the sum total of my studies and travels, all amounts in essence to what these pictures reveal of Islam. I am further asked what is required of non-Muslims when confronted with such widespread mayhem. What am I to say?
This situation in which Muslims of a persuasion and faith like mine find themselves is not unique. Consider the Japanese, confronted with their history of rape and violence during the first half of the last century. The frozen frames are merely a portion, and not the entire story, of Islam. Yet the pictures are true — and they depict Muslims engaged in unforgivable behavior. I condemn what I see categorically, while maintaining that the Islam depicted in the pictures is not my Islam.
I do, however, understand the sickness of Muslims depicted in the pictures. This is not to make apologies on their behalf, nor absolve them of their crimes. Yet I am told by non-Muslim critics of Islam that I am dishonest, or I am dissembling, or that my faith is so weak and corrupted by alien influences that I cannot be counted as a Muslim. These critics have made a direct correlation between the freeze frame and Islam, reducing my faith to a set of bloody images and an accompanying political ideology. Though the Muslim Brotherhood insists that Muslims such as myself are apostates, these critics dare to claim that my faith is but a variation of theirs.
So let me be clear: I speak with you entirely as an individual Muslim, one who belongs to no party or organization run by Muslims for Muslims. Since 9/11 I have not stepped inside the mosques in the city in which I reside. Those who run them have publicly condemned me for not being a “good” Muslim, just short of calling me an apostate. I am not a “good” Muslim to these authorities and their supporters because, in addition to condemning Muslim terrorism without equivocation, I defend measures needed by western powers, including Israel, to contain, neutralize and defeat political Islam, or Islamism.